Elmer the Elephant set for unforgettable celebration as display is unveiled in South Shields for trail's 11-week run

Elmer the Elephant has taken up residence in South Shields as the North East trail gets under way.

Wednesday, 21st August 2019, 4:42 pm
Updated Thursday, 22nd August 2019, 1:43 pm
The launch of St Oswalds Hospice Elmer's Great North Parade, at The Word, South Shields. Mayor Councillor Norman Dick and Mayoress Jean Williamson with pupils from Hebburn Lakes Primary School, and storyteller Stephen Sullivan.

St Oswald’s Hospice’s Elmer’s Great North Parade is an 11-week long trail of individually decorated sculptures inspired by children’s storybook character Elmer the Patchwork Elephant.

It features 50 large Elmer sculptures and 114 smaller ones – decorated by schools and community groups – and they are now also on show across Gateshead, Sunderland, Newcastle and North Tyneside.

The trail is based on the classic children’s book series by David McKee, which is celebrating its 30th birthday this year, with the character chosen as it symobolises individuality and laughter.

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Pupils from Hebburn Lakes Primary School were on hand to show off their work to the world as the trail was launched for all to visit.

The official launch event saw the final elephant, Hans, make its journey across the River Tyne on the Shields Ferry, with the organisers saying the expedition to its display spot a representation of the way the trail unites the region.

On arrival in South Shields and on joining a series of other decorated sculptures, Hans was met by the schoolchildren who helped decorate him, with the youngsters following him to his spot on the trial at The Word.

The piece, which is sponsored by the venue and South Tyneside Council, is joined by Trudi, based at the Customs House and decorated by Fox and Shriek, another called Feathered Friends in Marine Park, decorated by Matt Sewell.

Elmer's Great North Parade will raise vital funds for St Oswald’s Children’s Hospice, a charity which provides care and support to babies, children and young adults with complex needs.

The Word in South Shields hosted the launch event for the trail.

The trail will run until November 1, when there will be a farewell weekend and an auction, where the sculptures will be sold off to raise cash for the hospice.

Other locations include the toy department in Fenwick and Seven Stories in Newcastle, Saltwell Tower Cafe, the Metrocentre and The Sage in Gateshead, as well as Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens, The Beacon of Light and Roker Park on Wearside.

For more information, visit www.stoswaldsuk.org/elmer/

An app has also been launched to help people as they head out on the trail, with a host of memorabilia launched to also boost the funds of the charity.

Two of the Elmers as they were unveiled at the launch event at The Word.
A youngster gets up close to one of the Elmers at the launch event at at The Word in South Shields.
Schoolchildren who helped decorate the Elmers were on hand as the sculptures were unveiled.